Awww, just how dumb are we, Part I?
Poor Joe Tarica. His Sunday Tribune column really stepped in it on Sunday. True, he took some unwarranted swipes at people in the Central Valley, for which he was rightly chastised, but his column primarily focused on the cigarette-taxing Proposition 29, which proposition tanked because of a terrific campaign by the tobacco companies. A lot of letter-to-the-editor writers took umbrage and wrote in. But their letters, for the most part, illustrated just how terrific the tobacco companies’ campaign had been.
The Tobacco Boys ran a barrage of ads that paired the words “taxes,” and “bureaucrats/government,” with the winning tag-line, . . . we don’t need more taxes. . . Oooo, those are guaranteed winning words in this tax and government/bureaucracy-hating political climate and sure enough, the brains of millions knee-jerked and their fingers went right to the “NO!” box on the ballot.
Brilliant. Especially the use of the “we,” like it’s just us poor freedom-loving citizens against those evil taxers, those evil bureaucrats, forgetting that the vast majority of those “we’s” don’t smoke so would be totally unaffected by the tax. Nope. Just the thought of the word “tax” was enough.
Never mind the point of the tax, or whether it might benefit smokers, or deter them. Nope. A tax is a tax is a tax and even the threat of a tax on some other guy is somehow translated by our already-primed brains into a tax on me. And the letters to the editor showed just how effective Big Tobacco’s strategy had been as they parroted it back. Said Denny Barringer, “It was an unjust tax. It targeted the already burdened. It made no sense. It wasn’t about making people quit smoking – it was about bureaucracy.”
Ah, yes, “bureaucracy.” Never mind that it was also about making people quit or never start – price points have a tendency to also be tipping points that can change behavior. And never mind “unjust.” All taxes can be viewed as “unjust.” Right now, polls show that the vast majority of Americans support the idea of “unjustly” raising taxes on millionaires. That’s as “unfair” as slapping a buck on a pack of smokes.
No. Logic had nothing to do with what happens in the lizard brain. And ours have been carefully primed for years to view taxes as evil, the government as evil and bureaucrats (i.e. anybody who works for the government, even those who provide vital services to the taxpayers) as evil. So, simply pair those two hot buttons in a primed brain, toss in the “We” to create the false sense that we’re somehow part of what’s being proposed, and there you have it: Guaranteed crash and burn.
Ah, those Tobacco Boys know what they’re doing!
Awww, Just how dumb are we, Part II
The Tribune’s been running a series about the plight of our schools. They’re broke. Classes are cut to the bone, things like art and music are tossed out the door. Parents have to hold bake sales to even have a hope of getting their kids a decent education.
Awwww, too bad. Now, can we please parse this problem? Taxes are the price we pay for things we want. Clearly, for years and years, nobody wanted educated kids. They couldn’t possibly have felt that was important because they refused to vote to tax themselves so they could have decent schools. (And the schools themselves refused to deal with their own problems of waste and mismanagement and bad teachers.) Instead, the constant mantra was (here it is again) the school “bureaucracy” is wasteful, those rich, fat, “bureaucratic” unionized, money-grubbing teachers are earning too much money, the kids don’t need any “frills,” we don’t need to raise taxes to pay for any of this. We need to privatize schools, make them more competitive, bust the teacher’s unions, race those wages to the bottom, turn schools into a for-profit business.
The result you can see. Failing public schools, poorly educated kids, parents out selling brownies. Pathetic. But you get what you pay for and clearly, as a nation, we ain’t paying for public education. It’s not important to us because you only educate the next generation if you believe you have a future. And we no longer believe we do.
Awww, just how dumb are we, Part III?
The AP reports that health-care spending will be one-fifth of the economy by 2021. Even if the Supremes don’t overturn Obamacare, health care costs, insurance costs, will all continue to rise, despite new efforts at reform that are now resulting in savings. The costs are being driven by an aging population and the rise of often unnecessary expensive new medical technologies.
And, of course, a horribly overweight population, with the young kids coming along destined to die cruelly at a far earlier age than their overweight parents. As I said, we’ve turned ourselves into a country with no future. Literally. And a country sadly filling with the next generation: Under-educated , 12year-old kids weighing 200 pounds and already diagnosed with diabetes.
But when the First Lady plants a garden and urges the country to get off its fat butt and move and eat right, right wing politicos start yelling about The Nanny State. Propose a tax on sugar and high-fructose corn sugar, or even propose simply stopping subsidies on those lucrative and damaging products, or, better yet, shift those subsidies to fresh fruits and vegetables, and corporate, fake Astroturf organizations and the right wing will arrive in full force braying about “We” (there it is again, that “we”) as in “We don’t need any more taxes.”
And now the answer to, Awwww, just how dumb are we, Part IV?
Meanwhile, Burger King announced they’re rolling out a new summer treat: The bacon sundae –vanilla soft serve, fudge, caramel, bacon crumbles and a piece of bacon stuck on top. Logs in at 510 calories, 18 grams of fat and 61 grams of sugar.
I have no doubt it will be a big hit.